Wheldon Overcomes Missed Practice, Qualifies 14th at Milwaukee Mile; Problems with Steering Rack Forces Panther to Miss First Practice Session of the Day WEST ALLIS, Wis. (May 30, 2009) -- Panther Racing and driver Dan Wheldon overcame missing...
Wheldon Overcomes Missed Practice, Qualifies 14th at Milwaukee Mile; Problems with Steering Rack Forces Panther to Miss First Practice Session of the Day
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (May 30, 2009) -- Panther Racing and driver Dan Wheldon overcame missing the entire first practice session Saturday at the Milwaukee Mile to qualify 14th for the ABC Supply Company AJ Foyt 225. A problem with the steering in the No. 4 National Guard entry forced the team to pull the car back to the garage during the first session of the day to make substantial changes, which caused them to miss the entire first practice of the day.
With only a short 30-minute session between the morning and qualifications, the team was able to rally to put Wheldon into the field in the 15th spot with a four-lap average speed of 161.433 mph. His average consisted of laps of 159.184, 161.013, 162.897 and 162.694 mph.
Dan will be making his 100th consecutive IndyCar Series start on Sunday, putting him behind only former teammate Tony Kanaan in the that category. The race will mark his 102nd start of his IndyCar career, seven of which he will have made with Panther.
Wheldon is currently seventh in the IndyCar Series point standings, 16 points behind championship leader Dario Franchitti, who will start eighth tomorrow. He has collected three Top Five finishes at Milwaukee -- with a best result of third in 2007 -- in his five career starts on the one-mile oval. He started seventh and finished fourth here last year with Ganassi Racing.
Panther's best finish at Milwaukee was a third-place result with Tomas Scheckter in 2005. Former driver Vitor Meira collected a fifth-place finish at the Mile in 2007, and made headlines last year when he was driving the No. 4 car as it sailed through the air after Marco Andretti spun in front of him. Meira finished 22nd after the flight.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"Qualification was reasonable, probably with a little more confidence going in I would have done better, but that's one of those things. We've had a difficult weekend already, it's just difficult when you don't get a lot of running, but we've made a lot of improvements in the car since then and certainly (the qualification run) was a big improvement. We're moving in the right direction and that's very positive for tomorrow. We had an issue and missed the first session and really only had the second session to work on the National Guard Panther Racing car, and that set us back. But the guys did a great job in the pits last weekend and I'm sure they'll do the same for me here again in Milwaukee."